Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Florida Cost-Cutting Strategies Are Putting Up A Detour Sign on the Road to Independence


Here we have a program that is working. It's helping emancipated foster care youth to make it during their transition to adulthood. Yet, in the name of efficiency, Rep. Grimsley has decided to fix what ain't broke. Let's give young adults LESS money per month. Let's punish them for working by cutting their stipends.

Basically this reduction is putting up a great big DETOUR sign on the Road to Independence, and setting up additional barriers for Florida foster care youth/alumni who are trying to find stable housing and employment during their transition to adulthood.

For each of the legislators that supported this measure, I wonder how much assistance their parents gave them throughout young adulthood, such as: co-signing for their first apartment, paying for college and campus housing, and providing a place to stay during college breaks. I wish they knew how different the experience of turning 18 can be when you have no family.

For those of us who grew up in foster care and "aged out" of the system, the government is the only parent that we have. Please don't try to balance the state's budget on the backs of foster care youth. You'll save a penny now, and it will cost you two dollars later -- in terms of negative outcomes.

According the St. Petersburg Times: "Compared to other Florida teens, former foster youths are 14 times more likely to be homeless, six times more likely to go on welfare, and three times more likely to end up in the criminal justice system - as victims, if not defendants."

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